Curtis Cheng murder: accused lookout Mustafa Dirani was waiting for ‘Maccas’, defence says
A man accused of acting as a lookout for the “mastermind” behind the murder of police accountant Curtis Cheng was only with him to grab McDonald’s for lunch, a Sydney court has heard.
Mustafa Dirani, 24, is accused of conspiring with Raban Alou, Talal Alameddine and Milad Atai to plan and prepare for a terrorist act and to supplying a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Crown alleges Mr Dirani acted as a lookout for Alou on October 2, 2015, when he went to buy a gun off Alameddine.
Alou then gave that gun to 15-year-old Farhad Mohammad, who used it to shoot Mr Cheng outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta.
The Crown said video surveillance shows Mr Dirani closely following behind Alou’s car, from the Parramatta Mosque to Jones Park, where Alou met Alameddine.
But Mr Dirani’s lawyer Mark Tedeschi QC said Alou “was the principal organiser, the mastermind of the conspiracy and that he was a particularly manipulative man” in his opening statement to the jury.
“He was a man who was prepared to send a 15-year-old boy to commit a murder outside Police Headquarters at Parramatta in the knowledge at least one person was likely to be killed … and in the knowledge that Farhad Mohammed was likely to lose his life,” he said.
“The defence case is that Mr Dirani is not a party to that conspiracy and that he had no role in the conspiracy that led to Mr Cheng’s death on that day.”
Mr Tedeschi said Alou and the accused had stood outside the Parramatta Mosque, in plain view, talking for 20 minutes before deciding to get McDonald’s for lunch.
“Mr Dirani and Mr Alou both remark about the fact that they’re hungry and there is a reference to Maccas,” he said.
Mr Tedeschi argued there was no evidence to prove Mr Dirani knew anything about phone calls between Alou and Alameddine that day to organise the supply of the gun, including one Alou received outside the mosque.
“You will see a video of Mr Alou moving away from Mr Dirani to take that call from Mr Alameddine,” Mr Tedeschi told the jury.
“Thankfully their movements between [Parramatta Mosque, Jones Park and other locations] and at these locations were videoed from the air by the police, because at each of these places where Mr Alameddine turns up, Mr Alou walks away from Mr Dirani to have a private conversation with Mr Alameddine.
“Mr Dirani … was following his mate.”
Mr Tedeschi said Mr Dirani did possess extremist material, which the police found on his laptop, his phone and on loose discs in his car.
“He is not charged with having unpopular political views or possessing or uploading obnoxious political material,” he told the court.